Lukewarm Reception from Sri Lankans for the High Commission’s anti- Channel 4 campaign in London

by Our Correspondent in London

(June 29, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) According to sources associated with the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, two meetings have been held recently to organise protest campaigns against the Channel 4 broadcasts of war crimes against the Tamil civilian population and to pressurise the UN General Secretary Ban - Ki Moon to halt his efforts against Sri Lanka. These meetings have been held at the High Commission premises.

Invitation for the first meeting held two weeks ago was only sent to the very trusted pro-government sympathisers and some representatives of the opposition UNP and the JVP. Both UNP and the JVP were invited to project a broader image of the project to be undertaken. About 25 people representing the London Branch of the President’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), UNP, JVP, three Muslims and two Tamils who are in the payroll of the Sri Lankan government is said to have attended the meeting.

Both the meetings were presided by the Acting High Commissioner P M Amsa. The Political and Military Attaché’s of the High Commission were entrusted with the task of assisting the campaigners.

Members of the Sinhala Buddhist nationalist Jayaweva (Victory) Brigade, Anura Medagedara and Mrs Rani Bulathwela who are also the office bearers of the SLFP (UK) played the usual important role at the meetings.

In the first meeting, the JVP member took control of the floor and slated the government and the President Mahinda Rajapakse over several issues. He raised the issue of the war veteran Gen Sarath Fonseka being persecuted by the government. He also made scathing attack on the government for killing the Katunayake Free Trade Zone worker and ridiculed the honesty of the government to sit on moral high grounds to disclaim charges made against it.

He had said that not a single right minded Sri Lankan will join the government to white wash its image internationally.

Solicitor S M Bazeer representing the one man Muslim Information Centre in London demanded the High Commissioner, as to why the Government of Sri Lanka has not taken any legal action against the C4. Acting High Commissioner P M Amsa’s response was that consultations had been held and the opinion was that there are no grounds for any legal action and that the matter is still being pursued.

A second meeting on 26 (Sunday) June 2011 was also held at the High Commission premises to discuss the possibility of organising a protest demonstration against the C4. Determined efforts were made to get at least 50 people for the meeting. Yet only 11 persons belonging to the Jayaweva Brigade and a Muslim and a Tamil had tuned-up. UNP and JVP boycotted the meeting.

These eleven were asked to form themselves into a organisation, and it was decided to name the group as British Sri Lankan Solidarity Movement (BSSM). This name was proposed by the head of the Jayaweva Brigade Anura Medagedara who is also involved with the groups: Sri Lankans Against Terrorism and the British Sri Lanka Forum.
The eleven members also decided as a first step to hold a demonstration in front of the C4 TV station in the Central London. Anura Medegedara was entrusted with the task of obtaining police permission and coordinating the demonstration
The Acting High Commissioner requested the members to coordinate with the Political and Military Attaché’s of the High Commission and to make use the facilities at the Mission to ensure the demonstration a success.

While full efforts are being made to mobilise a significant number for a demonstration, it is understood that there is only luke-warm reception for the effort particularly from the Sinhalese. Many have responded by saying that the Govt. is not doing what they expected after the end of the war.

The poor reception received for protest demonstrations held during the last few months – one held in New York opposite the UN Headquarters, in Rome and in London opposite No. 10 Downing Street – have indicated lack of enthusiasm amongst the Sinhalese who had supported these efforts in the past. While the SLFP in the UK is divided into two groups, one the SLFP – UK, and the other SLFP – East London, as a result of personality clashes, and several allegations of corruptions are made against the SLFP – UK, leaders, Rani and Anura.

These same persons, at different times, together with the support of few others, organised demonstrations using different names as Sri Lankans Against Terrorism, British Sri Lanka Forum, Sri Lanka Expatriate Community Organisation, etc. etc.......As people have no faith in these organisations the High Commission has now directly intervened and, as a result a new name, British Sri Lanka Solidarity Movement was given and to be managed by the same old faces.

A Sinhalese who had actively participated in the past demonstrations when contacted said: “Thamusela ennay thamuselata ona welavata vitharai.. neda” (You all come to us when only you want to, isn’t it). Another, a self-crowned leader from Hounslow said “Lankawey desapalana karanawun okkomu horu, matanam epavela ennay” (Those in politics in Sri Lanka are all rogues, and I am now fed-up).

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